NSA has concerns after UK EID trials

FIELD trials of EID tags in the UK sheep flock have highlighted the ‘critical’ importance of having ‘tolerance’ within the regulations, the National Sheep Association has claimed.

Speaking after the trials, NSA chief executive Peter Morris said: “Farmers can not and must not be penalised because the equipment the sheep industry is working with cannot deliver perfect results. Tolerance of these facts must be recognised and accepted by the authorities at all levels.”

The EU’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) is due to arrive in the UK on Monday for a fact-finding mission looking at EID, and Mr Morris said the NSA would be voicing its concerns ‘very strongly’.

During the trials, the reader manufacturers, who volunteered to take part, set up their own systems within the handling area, powered only by portable batteries.

Several hundred store lambs sourced from all over the UK were read by a combination of three race readers as well as hand-held stick readers. There were numerous different types of tags, including some non-electronic slaughter tags, in the lambs. Many would have been in the ears for some time.

There were four electronic tags, all from the same manufacturer and with the same flock number, which no equipment could read. When removed from the statistics, there was a 100 per cent read rate from the best static reader.

The NSA said such static readers were used at Critical Control Point Centres but the equipment was not likely to be used on farm other than in a very few situations.

Several lambs had ears clearly ‘infected’ as a result of tagging, with the signs of damage clearly evident. Several tags were also badly inserted, being close the edge of the ear and would be easily lost, which highlighted the need for careful tagging.

Mr Morris said the trials had shown the good and indifferent sides of EID. “It has clearly shown there is reading equipment out there which is very good and other equipment which needs further work, particularly some race readers.”

The best results had a 99 per cent read rate, which, he said, exceeded most people’s expectations.

He added the reliability and quality of the EID tag was paramount and this had also been shown in the trial.

He said the fact there were four tags, all of the same type and with the same flock number, which could not be read by any equipment was a considerable concern and needed further investigation. “This sort of issue has to be thoroughly investigated as it is the farmer who would suffer for this without accepted tolerance in the system to allow for it.”


Total number of lambs in group                                                                 536

Number of lambs with non EID tags or tags missing                               100

Number of lambs in which EID tags which could potentially be read electronically                436

Best race reader result of the 436 lambs with electronic tags                   432   99%

Best stick reader result of the 436 lambs with electronic tags                  430   98.5%

Readers' comments (1)

  • Did you know the derogation doesn't cover missed reads if you BUY from market, only if you are the seller. The only reliable way is to read the tags ourselves and not rely on markets who some still haven't a clue what they are going to do to cope with EID reads.

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